Kathleen Ferrier

Biography

Born: April 22, 1912; Higher Walton, Lancashire, England   Died: October 8, 1953; London, England  
Although her career was tragically short, Kathleen Ferrier was among the most famous English singers of the twentieth century. Her contralto voice -- a rarity in itself -- was characterized by a firm, warm tone that found its expressive niche in the great works of oratorio and art song, as well as in her two operatic roles (only two!): Lucretia in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

Born in Lancashire on
Read more April 22, 1912, Ferrier studied the piano with great success as a child and intended a concert career; her concurrent vocal studies were considered more recreational in nature. In her mid-20s, however, after taking two first prizes at the 1937 Carlisle Festival -- one for piano and one for singing -- she made the decision to pursue singing as her vocation. She studied with J.E. Hutchinson in Newcastle upon Tyne, then with Roy Henderson in London.

During the years of WWII Ferrier toured widely in England, gaining a reputation as an especially fine concert artist. She joined the Bach Choir in London, and was alto soloist for a 1943 performance of Handel's Messiah at Westminster Abbey. Benjamin Britten first put her on the operatic stage at Glyndebourne on July 12, 1946, in the premiere of his chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia. She then toured with the work throughout England and appeared on an historic recording of major extracts from the work conducted by the composer. Britten would later compose the alto part in his Canticle No. 2 for her.

She appeared in the United States for the first time in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the New York Philharmonic and Bruno Walter; her subsequent recording of the work -- also under Walter's direction -- remains a classic. Walter also appeared as her accompanist in lieder recitals in Edinburgh and London. Another of Ferrier's notable successes was the part of the Angel in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.

In February 1953, Covent Garden staged Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice specifically for Ferrier, who was deemed ideal for the part of Orpheus. However, she was able to appear in only two of the scheduled four performances because of weakness caused by her already advanced cancer. These were her last appearances; she died in London on October 8, 1953. Before she died she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Read less
Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 1- Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice
Release Date: 06/16/1992   Label: London/Decca Historic Series  
Catalog: 433468   Number of Discs: 1
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Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Bruck, Ferrier, Et Al
Release Date: 01/11/2005   Label: Emi Classics Encore  
Catalog: 86194   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 26-50 of 59 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Britten: Spring Symphony, Etc / Van Beinum, Ferrier, Pears
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 440063 Release Date: 12/10/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Jo Vincent,  Peter Pears
    Conductor:  Eduard Van Beinum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Willibrod Boy's Choir,  Netherlands Radio Choir,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 27.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 5 - Chausson, Brahms, Rubbra
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433472 Release Date: 09/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Edmund Rubbra,  Traditional,  Ernest Chausson
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra
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  • 28.
    The Art Of Kathleen Ferrier
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 61003 Release Date: 08/06/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Henry Purcell,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Isobel Baillie,  Gerald Moore
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter,  Charles Bruck
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Netherlands Opera Orchestra
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  • 29.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 9- Schubert, Brahms, Schumann
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 321 Release Date: 05/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Bruno Walter,  Kathleen Ferrier
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  • 30.
    Arie Antiche - Anselmi, Berger, Caruso, Danco, Et Al
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10321 Release Date: 05/14/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alessandro Parisotti,  Tommaso Giordani,  Johann Paul A. Martini,  Giovanni Paisiello  ... 
    Performer:  Hina Spani,  Joseph Schwarz,  Miguel Villabella,  Erna Berger  ... 
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  • 31.
    Original Masters - Clifford Curzon - Decca Recordings 1944-1970 Vol 4
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000841202 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Clifford Curzon,  Irmgard Seefried,  Horst Günther,  Julius Patzak  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch,  George Szell,  Benjamin Britten,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $55.98
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  • 32.
    Elisabeth Schwazkopf - 1915-2006
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80273 Release Date: 01/16/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Franz Schubert,  Richard Strauss,  Walter Gieseking  ... 
    Performer:  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Geoffrey Parsons,  Walter Gieseking  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Alceo Galliera,  Thurston Dart,  Josef Krips  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 33.
    Brahms Lieder 1926-1950 Vol 6
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 40006 Release Date: 04/27/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Elisabeth Schumann,  Karl Schmitt-Walter,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Hugues Cuénod  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
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  • 34.
    Ariadne - Bach: Mass In B Minor / Enescu, Bbc Chorus, Et Al
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 5000 Release Date: 04/25/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Norman Walker,  Douglas Moore,  Maurice Clare,  Charles Spinks  ... 
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Reginald Jacques
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Chorus,  Boyd Neel Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 35.
    Kathleen Ferrier And Friends - Handel, Bach, Et Al
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 229 Release Date: 02/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  George Roth,  John Francis,  Millicent Silver  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Boyd Neel,  Bruno Walter,  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Boyd Neel Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 36.
    Brahms: Alto Rhapsody, Songs;  Beethoven: Symphony No 5
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: 301 Release Date: 02/01/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Phyllis Spurr
    Conductor:  Fritz Busch,  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Danish Radio Male Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Restored Masterworks - Brahms, Bach, Etc / Ferrier, Et Al
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 926 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ernest Chausson
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Millicent Silver
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 38.
    The Classical Album 2005
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000529102 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Agustín Lara,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Andrea Bocelli,  Lorin Maazel,  Bryn Terfel,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Nicholas Cleobury,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 39.
    Classic Recitals - Bach-handel Recital / Kathleen Ferrier
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000410802 Release Date: 03/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 40.
    Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Bruck, Ferrier, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics Encore   Catalog: 86194 Release Date: 01/11/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Greet Koeman,  Nel Duval,  Kathleen Ferrier
    Conductor:  Charles Bruck
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Orchestra,  Netherlands Opera Chorus
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  • 41.
    Kathleen Ferrier - Bach: B Minor Mass; Brahms Songs; 2 Recitals
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2260/62 Release Date: 12/08/2003   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Traditional,  Peter Warlock  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Alfred Poell,  Paul Schöffler  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Chorus Viennensis
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  • 42.
    Brahms: Alto Rhapsody;  Mahler: Das Lied / Kathleen Ferrier
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 5579 Release Date: 07/29/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Richard Lewis
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Erik Tuxen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  Oslo Philharmonic Chorus,  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 43.
    Mahler: Symphony No 2 / Klemperer, Ferrier, Vincent, Et Al
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2210 Release Date: 06/25/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Jo Vincent
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 44.
    Stanford: Bluebird, Songs Of The Sea, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Agnus Dei
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470384 Release Date: 05/20/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford
    Performer:  Frederick Stone,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Martin How,  John Scott  ... 
    Conductor:  Lionel Dakers,  George Guest,  Boris Ord,  David Hill  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal School of Church Music Choirs,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Bournemouth Sinfonietta Orchestra  ... 
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  • 45.
    Great Voices Of The Past - Legendary Opera Duets
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 8001 Release Date: 08/07/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Herva Nelli,  Ramon Vinay,  Lawrence Tibbett,  Rose Bampton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 46.
    Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde / Ferrier, Walter
    Label: London/Decca Legends   Catalog: 466576 Release Date: 11/14/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier,  Julius Patzak
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Lieder Von Franz Schubert In Historischen Aufnahmen
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89231 Release Date: 07/21/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Coenraad Bos,  Elena Gerhardt,  Franz Rupp,  Rosette Anday  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lasowski String Quartet
    On sale! $40.98
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  • 48.
    Operatic Arias (1911-1949)
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7864 Release Date: 05/19/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Traditional,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Titta Ruffo,  Maria Callas,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Lauritz Melchior  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Sabino,  Eugene Ormandy,  Gustav Cloëz,  Angelo Albergoni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Orchestra
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  • 49.
    To Music / Isobel Baillie & Kathleen Ferrier
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 5544 Release Date: 03/18/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Purcell,  George Frideric Handel,  Thomas Augustine Arne,  Maurice Greene  ... 
    Performer:  Gerald Moore,  Isobel Baillie,  Kathleen Ferrier
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  • 50.
    Kathleen Ferrier Edition Vol 1- Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 433468 Release Date: 06/16/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Ann Ayars,  Kathleen Ferrier,  Zoe Vlachopoulos
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus,  Southern Philharmonic Orchestra
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